Peter Walker: The journey that the Peer Researchers have been on is wonderful and transformational

Following the one year anniversary of delivering the Peer Action Collective Programme, we spoke with Peter Walker, Project Manager, who tells us more about the project’s impact.

In 2021, we partnered with the Youth Endowment Fund, #iwill Fund and Co-op on a £5.2 million ground-breaking new youth-led network called the Peer Action Collective (PAC) which involves giving young people, aged 10–25, a voice and the chance to make their communities safer, fairer places.

In the past year working alongside Bradford City Community Foundation and Sheffield Wednesday Communiy Programme, the project engaged with:

  •  Over 800 young people participated in their research projects on youth crime and violence
  • Fourteen young people who are designing and carrying out research as a peer researcher
  • Dozens of Changemakers who are leading on local social action, based on research findings.

What have been your highlights?

The ripple effect!

Especially how the project has become integrated with the CCOs involved, Sheffield Wednesday Community Programme (SWCP) and Bradford City Community Foundation (BCCF).

The network of local agencies involved has been great, those in the local authority, the police, etc. They have all played a part in engaging with the young people involved in the project, as well as wanting to assist with helping young people to create local change.

I’m sure Ian Ormondroyd at Bradford won’t mind me paraphrasing him, he expressed how much it means to him that the local authority and council have now started to see that they are more than just “a bag off balls and football organisation”.

It’s got to the point where police ask the CCO and their young people to support them in their activities.

What further impact has PAC had?

I think we all roughly know some of the reasons why young people get involved in youth crime and violence, and the impact it has on them and the community. But to see and hear the views, opinions and stories of hundreds of young people about the issues they face is something else.

It’s great to see that there are young people that want to project this youth voice to help make a change, raise awareness, become positive roles models, and embed themselves into local decision making.

How are the PAC Researchers working for the better of their community?

The journey that the Peer Researchers have been on is wonderful and transformational. For some it’s their first involvement with the CCOs, others are NCS graduates, and some were project volunteers.

SWCP and BCCF worked brilliantly as two teams to form their own research projects, based on their own research of local needs and themes. Their pathway of personal development and enthusiasm for the project has been fantastic, a year on and some now have part-time hours with the CCOs on other community projects, gained places at University, or have joined the Police.

What’s next for the PAC Programme?

The Co-op has made available £30k to help young people up-scale social action projects. Some current projects that have been shaped by the research include young people in Sheffield working with SWCP to better inform about school trauma and also supply crisis packs for young people.

Young people in Bradford are supporting the delivery of the local police’s Safer School Project, as well as creating city wide maps for young people to identify where they can access positive activities. And, we are doing a joint Sheffield and Bradford project in HM YOI Wetherby to help young offenders build a social action project in their environment.

This December to February will then see the project’s learning partner (The Young Foundation), release the regional and national research reports that the Peer Researchers from across England and Wales contributed towards. We then hope for positive news on a potential PAC 2 from March next year.


Click here to find out more about PAC.